Reverend Walker Stanley Gawe

sahoboss's picture
Posted by sahoboss on

Biographical information


Member of the Industrial and Commercial Worker’s Union (ICU), active in the 1952 Defiance Campaign, President of the Cape Branch of the African National Congress (ANC), accused in the Treason Trial.

First name: 
Middle name: 
Last name: 
Date of birth: 
Location of birth: 
Herschel District, Cape Province (now Western Cape), South Africa
Date of death: 
Location of death: 
Zwelitsha, King Williamstown, Eastern Cape (now Eastern Province), South Africa

Walker Stanley Gawe was born in 1899 on 30 November in the Herschel district of the Cape, where both his parents were teachers. He attended St. Matthew's College in Keiskammahoek where he obtained a post-primary teacher's qualification and later trained in 1931-1933 as an Anglican Priest.He joined the Industrial and Commercial Worker’s Union (ICU),1920s and in 1926 he became a member of the African National Congress (ANC). In the late 1930s he served as chaplain of the Cape provincial ANCand from 1942 to 1946 was a chaplain in the Native Military Corps.Gawe married Regina in 1936 and during World War II. Reverend Gawe took part in the Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign in 1952, and went on to succeed Professor Z K Matthews as the ANC’s Cape President in 1955. However, he could not be present, and his address was read out to the conference.Arrested on charges of treason on 5 December 1956, Gawe was detained at the Fort in Johannesburg. On 21 December he was released on bail of £50, and later charges were withdrawn against him.During detention at the Fort, the 156 accused were separated into four groups by the prison authorities, with Gawe allocated to the cell occupied by the younger accused. Daily, when those who shared the cell had left for their morning exercises, Gawe would say his prayers but charges against him were dropped in the late 1958.

Gawe at the time of post-Sharpville state of emergency  he was detained without charge in an East London prison alongside Matthews between April and August1960.In the early 1970s Gawe and his nephew,Reverend JG,both of King William's Town supported the workof the black consciousness movement and concurred in offering an abandoned church building at 15 Leopold Street to Steve Biko and his colleagues whose operations became centered there.Reverend Walker Stanley Gawe lived in Zwelitsha, near King Williamstown, and passed away on 16 October 1980. In August 2005, his wife Regina celebrated her 100th birthday.

• “Reverend Walker Gawe” [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 March 2009]
• “Apartheid Icon Regina Gawe turns 100” (2005) [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 March 2009]
• Naidoo, P. (2006) 156 Hands that built South Africa. Published by the author. p. 66 - 68
• Gail M. Gerhart, Teresa Barnes, Antony Bugg-Levine, Thomas Karis, Nimrod Mkele .From Protest to Challenge 4-Political Profiles (1882-1990) (last accessed 27 November 2018)

Last updated : 27-Nov-2018

This article was produced by South African History Online on 17-Feb-2011

Support South African History Online

Donate and Make African History Matter

South African History Online is a non profit organisation. We depend on public support to build our website into the most comprehensive educational resource and encyclopaedia on African history.

Your support will help us to build and maintain partnerships with educational institutions in order to strengthen teaching, research and free access to our content.